Will the 3D-printed boat become normal? It’s still too early to tell, but great news comes from Sweden. The first 3D-printed, one-piece boat that actually navigates. The project is by Ri.Se. (Research Institutes of Sweden), Sweden’s research institute, which completed this prototype and launched it in Gothenburg, Sweden’s west coast archipelago in mid-December.
A seaworthy boat, 3D printed in one piece, has now been launched in Gothenburg. This is the first time this has happened in Europe. The boat has been printed at Ri.Se. and is the result of a collaboration between Ri.Se. and Cipax, which owns the boat model Pioner.
We interviewed Emil Johansson, researcher and project leader at Ri.Se., who has been following the development of this project.
“The motorboat – says Emil Johansson – is one of the first boats which have been 3D printed in a single piece in the world. We believe that it is also the first one which have been printed in a single piece and is actually seaworthy. We were quite proud that we were able to put it into the water in the middle of December in Gothenburg, in the Swedish west coast archipelago. “
What are the advantages of the 3d print?
The advantages of 3D printing boats are many. First of all, it can be very useful in the prototyping stage where it is now possible to go from design to a functional prototype in less than a week. This means that boat designs can be quickly and affordably tested in real life before expensive moulds have to be manufactured. Secondly, it means that it is possible to manufacture custom boat designs that are adapted to the specific user. 3D printing lowers the cost and lead time for the small series manufacturing.
– How long will it take to become a standard?
I believe we will see very rapid adoption of 3D printing in the marine industry in the next two years. In particular, I think 3D printing of moulds for the manufacturing of boat hulls will be very common. 3D printing of complete boats may still be a few years from full commercialization but I think there will soon be a niche market for this too.
Will it be more useful to print for example the hull of the boat or some smaller parts?
It depends on what the purpose is. I think 3D printing can be used for any part of a boat where you would like to have a more complex design or maybe allow the user to customize the design. It can be the boat hull, seating or maybe something
What are the key points of your project?
DiLAM is a research project where the main focus has been to develop and demonstrate technology for large scale 3D printing. The technology we have used is based on industrial robots. We simply attach a printing head for thermoplastics at the end of the robotic arm. In the project, we have so far manufactured a lot of different large scale products. Everything from chairs, kayaks, and boats to vacuum forming tools.
What is the final purpose of your project? Create a prototype boat or a system to create a boat?
We don’t know yet. I think we will have to carefully analyze the costs of printing the boat. Prototypes are definitely a possibility. We have also proven that the boat actually works as a boat so manufacturing can also be a possibility. However, this will require more trials and validation.
What are the materials used for the 3d print?
We selected a material that was close to the material of the original boat which normally is manufactured by rotational moulding. The 3D printed boat is made in short fiberglass reinforced polypropylene.
How long does it take to make a 3d print? Could you please make an example based on the size of the 3d print?
The boat took about 72 hours to complete. I believe we will be able to complete it a lot faster in the future when we have had a chance to optimize the process.
What about the cost of the boat?
Unfortunately, we do not have a full cost calculated yet. It depends on what you include. Material cost is the same as a rotationally moulded boat, about 500 – 750 Euro depending on the material. Parts of this size currently cost quite a lot to make right now.
How many boats do you need to print to reduce costs?
With an optimized process where the design is well adapted each boat would cost the same to make. If the process is relatively standardized and automated it would I think be possible to go below 5 figures
What you need now to optimize the process?
Primarily fine-tuning of the printing paths to avoid defects and make it possible to increase printing speed.